A ‘merged season’ solution for the Premier League post-coronavirus could be the best for all

Dr Richard Evans is a sports economist and an Associate Research Fellow at the Birkbeck Sports Business Centre with a focus on football finance. He discusses a potential solution to catch up the football season post-coronavirus.

It appears from the media that there is an understandable impatience, verging on panic, on the part of the FA and the Premier League to get the remaining games of the 2019/20 season played.  Clearly this would overcome commercial threats, in particular from the broadcast rights holders, and negate problems with player contracts if the season is extended.  However, even if the authorities in the UK go ahead with their preferred solution without alignment with UEFA for international competitions, it may be in the commercial interests of the Premier League to take a longer term view.

If, as seems likely, the coronavirus pandemic has not passed by the scheduled start of next season the effect on that season (and possibly future seasons) will also need to be considered. At present it appears that either this is not being considered or it is assumed that, at that point, new contracts would be negotiated and things would carry on from there as normal.

Consider the (quite likely) possibility that the point when football could continue as normal is not the convenient start of a scheduled season. Perhaps some new competition could be introduced to fill the gap until another season started. But perhaps that period could provide a window for the remaining games from this season to be played. For example, if games could resume sometime before March next year the current and next seasons could be merged into a 2019/21 season and ‘the narrative’ (as the Premier League likes to call it) could be continued to a sporting conclusion. This ‘merged season’ scenario would preserve the integrity of the competition for the Premier League and the fans and thereby be more attractive and consequently lead to a more advantageous commercial resolution with broadcasters, sponsors and players.



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